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Emergency Preparedness: Ready for the Next One?

Originally posted August 28, 2013 by Chris Kilbourne on https://safetydailyadvisor.blr.com

September is National Preparedness Month, so what better time to review your workplace emergency response program?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website www.Ready.gov says that a workplace preparedness program must be “built on a foundation of management leadership, commitment, and financial support. Without management commitment and financial support, it will be difficult to build the program, maintain resources, and keep the program up-to-date.”

Share these good reasons for investing in a preparedness program with your management:

  • Up to 40% of businesses affected by a natural or human-caused disaster never reopen. (Source: Insurance Information Institute)
  • Customers expect delivery of products or services on time. If there is a significant delay, customers may go to a competitor.
  • Larger businesses are asking their suppliers about preparedness. They want to be sure that their supply chain is not interrupted. Failure to implement a preparedness program risks losing business to competitors who can demonstrate they have a plan.
  • Insurance is only a partial solution. It does not cover all losses and it will not replace customers.
  • Many disasters—natural or human-caused—may overwhelm the resources of even the largest public agencies. Or they may not be able to reach every facility in time.

Despite good reasons for having preparedness plans, however, Ready.gov cites an Ad Council survey that reported nearly two-thirds of respondents said they do not have an emergency plan in place for their business.

How Much Is Enough?

How much time, money, and other resources should be invested in a preparedness program? Ready.gov says that depends upon many factors. Regulations, for example, may establish minimum requirements. But beyond these minimums each business needs to determine how much risk it can tolerate.

Many risks cannot be insured, so a preparedness program may be the only means of managing those risks. Some risks can be reduced by investing in loss prevention programs, protection systems and equipment. An understanding of the likelihood and severity of risk and the costs to reduce risk is needed to make decisions.

Program Pointers

A preparedness policy that is consistent with the mission and vision of the business should be written and disseminated by management, according to Ready.gov. “The policy should define roles and responsibilities. It should authorize selected employees to develop the program and keep it current. The policy should also define the goals and objectives of the program.”

Typical goals of a preparedness program include:

  • Protecting the safety of employees, disabled workers, visitors, contractors, and others at risk from hazards at the facility
  • Maintaining customer service by minimizing interruptions or disruptions of business operations
  • Protecting facilities, physical assets and electronic information
  • Preventing environmental contamination
  • Protecting the organization’s brand, image, and reputation

Ready.gov suggests organizing key employees into a program committee that can assist in the development, implementation, and maintenance of the preparedness program.

A program coordinator should be appointed to lead the committee and guide the development of the program and communicate essential aspects of the plan to all employees so they can participate in the preparedness effort.

Your preparedness program should be reviewed periodically to ensure that it meets the current needs of the business and complies with any laws, regulations, or other requirements that may have changed.